Launching the next phase of the ERP campaign

Good News !   We have secured the funding we need to launch the next phase of the European Rural Parliament campaign, namely a €150,000 grant from the European Commission through the Europe for Citizens programme.  
This will provide the base funding for the third European Rural Parliament, to be held in October 2017. The ERP Steering Committee has chosen a preferred host for this event, from a group of four partners who offered to host it. We will announce the date and venue as soon as we have completed a formal agreement with the host.
The grant from the European Commission provides base funding also for six projects which were set out in our application to the Commission, which was entitled ‘Strengthening Participation Among Rural People in Europe’ (SPARCE). These projects are focused on some of the key ideas in the European Rural Manifesto, which was adopted at the ERP 2015 Gathering in Schärding. They are :
  • Communal action to sustain rural services
  • Enabling young people to find a good life in the countryside
  • Welcoming immigrants and refugees into rural areas
  • Enlisting the participation, and meeting the needs, of socially excluded citizens
  • Strengthening rural economies
  • Integrated rural development.
We will work with groups of our European and national partners to pursue these projects.

The ERP 2016-17 Action Programme includes a number of other projects, which reflect other parts of the European Rural Manifesto.   Many of our European and national partners have expressed readiness to lead, or take part in, projects on these other themes.   We will announce plans for projects as they become crystallised.

So, we approach the next phase in the European Rural Parliament campaign.   The importance of this campaign is growing at a time of great economic and political challenges in Europe.   The European institutions are struggling to face these challenges.   They need to connect with the concerns, the aspirations and the energies of European citizens.   The European Rural Parliament seeks to express the voice of rural Europe;  to articulate the concerns of rural people;  and to promote self-help and action by the rural people, in partnership with civil society and governments.   We wish to enable rural people to play their full role in addressing Europe’s crisis.

Vanessa Halhead, Kirsten Birke Lund and Michael Dower, ERP Joint Coordinators

Vanessa, Michael and Kirsten visiting a village centre in the Netherlands

News from European partners  

ERCA – the European Rural Community Alliance
ERCA, which was established as an international non-profit organisation in 2009, held its 2016 General Assembly and Board meeting at the Swedish Rural Parliament in Gotland in May.   A key focus of ERCA’s work since 2012 has been the initiation and on-going development of the European Rural Parliament, in partnership with PREPARE, ELARD and European and national partners.    Within the ERP2016-17 Action Programme, ERCA will focus energy on projects in the thematic areas of rural youth, refugees and rural areas, climate change and international exchange.    Additional areas were identified for development by ERCA in the coming period, including local democracy and place-based development, and a platform for exchange of ideas and experience between rural areas.

PREPARE Partnership for Rural Europe will hold its annual Gathering in Albania 13-16 September 2016.   This event will be hosted by PREPARE’s newest partner, the Albanian Rural Development Network.   It will include a day of field visits to meet rural communities and enterprises in Korça province, followed by two days of workshops and discussions focused mainly on strengthening the capacity of civil society organisations and networks.   This theme is the centrepiece of a three-year programme, entitled ALTER and funded by the European Commission through its Civil Society Facility, which is being pursued by PREPARE’s national partners in the Western Balkans and Turkey.   Information from Evelina Azizaj, e-mail

Prespa Lake, on the borders of Albania, Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

PREPARE gained registration earlier this year as an International Non-profit Association under Belgian law, and is launching the next phase of its activity by organising in October a traveling workshop in Armenia and Georgia for participants from eight countries surrounding the Black Sea.   This will enable exchange of ideas between people from those countries and from PREPARE partners based in the EU and the Western Balkans.   This will focus on the well-being of small farming communities, and on the strengthening of civil society organisations in rural areas and of partnership between civil society organisations and governments.   Information from Michael Dower, PREPARE Coordinator, e-mail

ELARD will take an active part in the “European Week of Regions and cities” (see ‘Forthcoming events’ below), with the workshop - "CLLD - how does it really work?" (Code INV12C77) on 12 October 2016 in Brussels.   With presentations from Member States where multi-funded CLLD is implemented, ELARD wants to highlight the challenges in implementing CLLD and to develop recommendations for the time beyond 2020.   ELARD sees it as a great opportunity to demonstrate the positive aspects as well as the pitfalls of CLLD.

ELARD's CONFERENCE "Renewing LEADER/CLLD for 2020+, Celebrating 25 years of LEADER in Europe” will be held 22-23 November 2016 at Tartu, Estonia.   ELARD hopes to welcome many stakeholders to Tartu, where LAGs from all over Europe will develop and agree a Declaration stating the vision for LEADER in the next programming period and beyond.   By combining knowledge and experiences, such a Declaration will be a powerful tool when advocating the interests of LAGs at the European level in the attempt to influence the new legal framework for the programming 2021-2027.

Forthcoming events

August 2016
24 to 26 August, Jäneda, Estonia.   LEADER Fair for Transnational Cooperation.   We invite representatives of Local Action Groups, Fisheries Local Action Groups, Managing Authorities, National Rural Networks and other organisations to participate.  Information and link to registration or e-mail to Ave Bremse,

September 2016
5 to 6 September, Cork, Ireland.  Cork 2 Conference on Europe Rural Development, hosted by the European Commission.   The Conference will bring together 250 or so stakeholders to discuss current and future challenges of farming and rural areas, as well as potential policy responses.   See
9 to 10 September, Koper on the Slovenian coast.   Festival of Slovenian Local Action Groups, with the theme "Regional integration of LAGs.   All European LAGs, networks of LAGs in neighbouring countries, members of ELARD and of national rural development networks are invited.   The festival will enable exchange on transnational cooperation, and presentation of good practice in Slovenian Istria.   Information at   Application form at
13 to 16 September, Voskopoje, Albania.   PREPARE Gathering–see detail earlier in this Newsletter.

October 2016
5 to 6 October, Athens, Greece.  “Opportunities for European Agriculture : Green Growth and Dynamic Markets”.   In view of the increasing challenges facing EU farmers and agri-cooperatives, COPA and COGECA, representing over 23 million European farmers and their families, as well as 22,000 agri-cooperatives, are organising this congress on how to ensure a sustainable, competitive, innovative and economically viable EU agriculture sector in the future.  
Register at
6 to 8 October, Brechin, Angus, Scotland.   Scottish Rural Parliament 2016, organised by Scottish Rural Action.   This will bring together 400 people from across rural Scotland to discuss the issues of greatest importance to rural communities, and is also open to our partners from across Europe.   “We will be agreeing a Manifesto for rural Scotland and deciding what actions need to be taken and by whom, to ensure our rural communities are empowered, connected and sustainable.”  Bookings and further information at:
10 to 13 October, Brussels, Belgium.   The 14th European Week of Regions and Cities, previously called "Open days", held in Brussels on the initiative of the European Commission, will focus on the challenges currently facing Europe's regions and cities.   Building on the implementation cycle of EU cohesion policy programmes, the event will be aligned with the political priorities of the European Commission and the European Committee of the Regions for 2016 and with the interests of the partner regions and cities.   You can register at
23 to 28 October  PREPARE Black Sea Traveling Workshop in Georgia and Armenia - see detail earlier in this Newsletter.  

November 2016
10 to 13 November, Tara National Park, Serbia.  Forum Synergies Second Workshop on Sustainable Forest Management.   This event, co-organised by Ibar Development Association (IDA), will have a regional focus on forests in the Western Balkans.
Information from Simone Matouch Tel.+43 6508 830 657, e-mail
or Dragan Roganovic Tel. +381 36 313 403, e-mail        
22 to 23 November, Tartu, Estonia. ELARD's CONFERENCE "Renewing LEADER/CLLD for 2020+, Celebrating 25 years of LEADER in Europe”   see detail earlier in this Newsletter.

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European Rural Parliament · Braehead, Highland · Cromarty, Scotland UK IV11 8YQ · United Kingdom

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